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Efforts to vaccinate Americans against Covid-19 met with success this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration jointly called for an interruption in the use of the Johnson & Johnson-made vaccine while experts attempt to determine whether it is responsible for a small number of serious blood clots, mainly in women of childbearing potential Age. While the J&J vaccine so far makes up only a small percentage of vaccines shipped in the US, experts fear that concerns about it could spread to the other vaccines currently in use and exacerbate the vaccine’s hesitation.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden unveiled a budget that saw a substantial increase in health programs, and his administration sought to keep promises to abortion rights supporters regarding the abortion pill and the federal family planning program, Title X.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from Kaiser Health News, Tami Luhby from CNN, Rebecca Adams from CQ Roll Call, and Shefali Luthra from The 19th.
Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:
– After the use of the J&J vaccine was suspended, the CDC’s Vaccination Advisory Panel met on Wednesday but delayed making additional recommendations. The hiatus is not expected to significantly slow down vaccination efforts in the US, but it will pose a problem globally – particularly in the context of the problems that AstraZeneca’s similar vaccine is facing in Europe and abroad. These were the vaccines that would be important to developing countries as they only require a single shot and are easier to store than the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
– Another wrinkle emerging in the vaccination effort has to do with the idea of forged Covid documents.
– Xavier Becerra, secretary for health and human services, traveled to Capitol Hill this week to discuss the HHS budget, which includes a 23% increase in spending on “discretionary” programs (excluding Medicare and Medicaid). While programs may not get the full boost, there appears to be bipartisan support for boosts from the National Institutes of Health, including a new research initiative focused on cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should also make significantly more resources available.
– Biden signed a bill this week that would delay a planned 2% cut in Medicare. This cut is different from a cut that could be triggered by the recent discharge bill. It’s unlikely that Congress will want to cut payments to health care providers still grappling with the pandemic, but it’s also unclear whether lawmakers will step back and renegotiate the budget rules that sparked the cuts in the first place.
– After a controversial endorsement for Becerra, Biden’s other HHS nominees seem to have an easier time. Andrea Joan Palm, the nominee for assistant secretary, and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who was appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, went before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday. Both candidates appear to be on their way to confirmation, despite questions about lawmakers’ pet projects, the rise in opioid deaths, children on the border, and even the “public option,” the government’s plan to provide insurance for people who do not have insurance received, the work was put.
In the reproductive health arena, von Biden’s FDA has taken steps to waive the federal rule that women seeking medical abortions must receive the abortion pill in person – at least until the end of the pandemic. The administration has also issued a proposed rule to reverse Trump administration rules for Title X. However, the Trump Directive will remain in place for months as the rule rewriting process is time consuming.
– Biden doesn’t seem very comfortable talking about abortion. There is speculation that he is doing a balancing act on this issue – doing what can be done to bolster support from his base and the party’s pro-choice faction, without paying much attention to politics.
For added recognition, panelists also recommend their favorite health stories of the week that they think you should read too:
Julie Rovner: KHN’s “Redfield Joins Big Ass Fans, Promoting Controversial Covid Killing Technology” by Christina Jewett and Lauren Weber.
Shefali Luthra: The 19th Century Poll: 69 Percent of Women Under 30 Say COVID-19 Damaged Their Mental Health, by Luthra.
Rebecca Adams: CQ Roll Calls “Wider Vaccine Eligibility Can Exacerbate Racial Inequalities” by Ariel Cohen.
Tami Luhby: ProPublicas “A small number of people are hospitalized despite being vaccinated. We have to learn why, ”by Caroline Chen.
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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces extensive journalism on health issues. Alongside Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three most important operational programs of the KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a foundation that provides health information to the nation.
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